Nationwide Children’s: Multiyear Study of Head Impact During Football Seasons Launched

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sean C. Rose, MD Pediatric sports neurologist and co-director Complex Concussion Clinic Nationwide Children’s Hospital Assistant professor of Pediatrics The Ohio State UniversitySean C. Rose, MD
Pediatric sports neurologist and co-director
Complex Concussion Clinic
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Assistant professor of Pediatrics
The Ohio State University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The link between sub-concussive head impacts and declines in neurocognitive function has been reported by some studies, yet refuted by others.  There is very little evidence that has been collected in children as they are sustaining these head impacts.

We initiated a multi-year study of youth football players to provide a more in-depth look at the question.  We measured head impacts using helmet sensors during the 2016 football season.  112 players age 9-18 completed a battery of neurocognitive tests before and after the football season.

We found that neither the total burden of head impacts nor the intensity of individual impacts were associated with changes in testing performance from pre to post-season.

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“11+ Kids” Program Reduces Soccer Injuries in Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Spring Soccer” by terren in Virginia is licensed under CC BY 2.0Roland Rössler PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow
Dept of Public and Occupational Health
Amsterdam Collaboration on Health and Safety in Sports
VU University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous studies have shown that exercise-based injury prevention programmes can reduce the number of sport injuries. However, no previous study investigated the prevention of football (soccer) injuries in children under the age of 14 years [1], even though the number of football players under 14 years of age could be estimated as around 15 million worldwide. In comparison, only about 100,000 players, so 150 times less, are considered professional players (earning enough money to live from playing football). The large number of children playing football and the fact that every year about 10% of these players sustain an injury, indicates the relevance of injury prevention in this population.

Based on the existing “11+” programme (that has been designed for players from the age of 14 years onwards) and our epidemiological data on injuries in football players under 14 years of age [2, 3], we developed and pilot tested an injury prevention programme for 7- to 13-year-old children (called “11+ Kids”) with an international group of experts.[4]

We designed the present cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate whether the “11+ Kids” programme reduces the incidence of injuries in children’s football.

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Childhood Tackle Football Linked To Increased Risk of Depression and Cognitive Issues In Adulthood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael Alosco, PhD NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease & CTE Center Boston University School of Medicine 

Dr. Alosco

Michael Alosco, PhD
NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow
Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease & CTE Center
Boston University School of Medicine 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: TThe goal of this study was to investigate whether playing youth tackle football, particularly before the age of 12, is associated with worse emotional, behavioral, and cognitive difficulties later in life. Participants in this study included 214 former amateur and professional American football players who were part of the LEGEND study at Boston University. Participants had an average age of 51. 43 played high school football, 103 played college football, and there were 68 professional American football players. The former players were divided into two groups: those who began playing tackle football before age 12 and those who began at age 12 or older. Participants received telephone-administered cognitive tests and completed online measures of depression, behavioral regulation, apathy, and executive functioning, such as initiating activity, problem-solving, planning, and organization. Results from former players who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 were compared to those of participants who started playing at age 12 or later.

The study showed that participation in tackle football before age 12 increased the odds for having problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive functioning by two-fold and increased the odds for clinically elevated depression scores by three-fold. These findings were independent of the total number of years the participants played football or at what level they played, such as high school, college, or professional. Even when a specific age cutoff was not used, younger age of exposure to tackle football corresponded with worse clinical status.

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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Found In Brains of Nearly All NFL Players Examined

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel H. Daneshvar, M.D., Ph.D. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center Team Up Against Concussions | Founder Boston University

Dr. Daneshvar

Daniel H. Daneshvar, M.D., Ph.D.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center
Team Up Against Concussions | Founder
Boston University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with repetitive head impacts. CTE was first described in JAMA in 1928. In the 99 years since, just over 100 cases of CTE have been described in the world’s literature.

This study nearly doubles the number of reported cases of CTE, with 177 cases of CTE in football players. Of note, 110 of the 111 athletes who played in the NFL had CTE. This study represents the largest and the most methodologically rigorous description of a series of patients with CTE ever published. Such a richness of data regarding the clinical and pathological features of CTE has never been previously compiled. As such, this study represents an important advance to the medical literature and an enormous scientific advance in our understanding of  chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

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Study Addresses Mental Health Concerns In Professional Footballers

Prof.dr. Judith K. Sluiter Principal Investigator Manager KMKA: Kenniscentrum Medische Keuringen in Arbeid Nationaal secretaris voor ICOH (International Commission on Occupational Health) Coronel Instituut voor Arbeid en Gezondheid, Academisch Medisch Centrum / UvA Meibergdreef AmsterdamMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof.dr. Judith K. Sluiter Principal Investigator
Manager KMKA: Kenniscentrum Medische Keuringen in Arbeid
Nationaal secretaris voor ICOH (International Commission on Occupational Health)
Coronel Instituut voor Arbeid en Gezondheid, Academisch Medisch Centrum / UvA Meibergdreef Amsterdam

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Prof. Sluiter: Professional footballers contain a group of employees working in a job with specific job demands. The occupational guidance and prevention of decreased work functioning of workers in these kinds of jobs should receive more attention. The mental health of professional footballers receive less attention compared to their physical health. We studied the prevalence of self-reported mental health problems and psychosocial difficulties in a group of current and former professional footballers, and we explored the association between having had psychosocial stressors and the health conditions under study.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: The response rate was 29% with available data from 253 footballers. In current players, the prevalence of mental health complaints ranged from 5% (burnout) to 26% (anxiety/depression). In former players, the prevalence ranged from 16% (burnout) to 39% (anxiety/depression). A small percentage of players had low self-esteem (3-5%). One quarter to two-fifth of the players showed adverse nutrition behaviour. Small but significant association between experiencing lower social support (OR=1.1) and having had recent life events (OR=1.4-1.6) and mental health complaints were found in current players. Having had severe injuries was associated with better nutrition behavior. In former players, having had life events showed a preventive effect on smoking (OR=0.4) and having had previous surgery was significantly associated with current smoking behavior (OR=1.9).

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Tackle Football Linked to Smaller Hippocampal Volume and Slower Reaction Times

Patrick S. F. Bellgowan, PhD Laureate Institute for Brain Research Faculty of Community Medicine, The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OklahomaMedicalResearch Interview with:
Patrick S. F. Bellgowan, PhD
Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Faculty of Community Medicine, The University of Tulsa,
Tulsa, Oklahoma


MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Bellgowan: These results demonstrate 14% and 24% smaller hippocampal volumes in collegiate football players with and without a history of concussion relative to education-, sex- and age-matched controls participants.  Further, the number of years of tackle football experience was correlated with smaller hippocampi and slower baseline reaction times.  The hippocampus plays a key role in memory and emotional regulation.  Volumetrics of other medial temporal lobe structures (I.e. The amygdala) did NOT show differences among groups suggesting that this effect is localized to the hippocampus.
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